Long after dinner, Alastor Moody walked alone on the grounds of Hogwarts. It was after hours. The moon, a half-filled sphere hanging lonely in the full darkness of the night, was edged in a light mist as clouds scudded across the empty sky.
The water of the lake glimmered in the silvery light, reflecting the gold-lit windows of Hogwarts. Alastor paused by the lake's edge, staring into the dark water that gently lapped the sandy bank. After a silent moment, he dipped the toe of his shoe into the frigid water, thoughtfully.
The wind moaned in the trees of the Forbidden Forest; across the way, he could see the groundskeeper's hut, its windows dark in the after-midnight hour.
He was restless. It had been difficult for him to avoid the argument in the Great Hall at dinner; it had been a waste of time, of course. But Alastor was in such a mood that he would seieze on any excuse to fight with someone. He wanted to do something.
That Spica Nigellus...too full of herself, he mused, stirring the water with his toes. Did she really think that bringing up Pureblood heritage would spark an intrest with me, or a sympathy?
A dark little smile quicked his lips. Not hardly. I can't stand her, or that gang of Slytherins that she's always out and about with. Not that I like Myrtle Munddylow much better, I suppose. And then there's McGonagall...
Alastor sank down on a rather large rock, protruding from the water's edge. It was cold; he could feel the chill of the stone right through his trousers. He reached into his pocket with rather numb fingers, finding a cigarette somewhere deep near the bottom; a quick spell brought flames sparking to his fingertips, and he lit the cig up and took a deep drag.
The smoke eked out his nose, drawing a fine mist over the water's edge. It quickly disappated in the wind that blew sharp in the next moment, and Alastor caught his breath at the frigid chill of the cold night's breeze.
The problem really is, I don't care. I don't feel attatched to this place. Being held back only intensified the whole ordeal. I don't care, I don't want to be here, I don't care about the petty arguments or the spats or the politics and dynamics, or the classes or the marks. Shape up or you'll fail again, they tell me. Where's the threat in that when I've already failed once?
I'm supposed to care and I'm supposed to want--what? To get a good job after this? So I can not care about my job, so I can sit and listen to people talk around me, listen to them debate and argue about matters that don't mean anything to me?
But what do I want, in that case?
His eyes strayed across the lake water, toward the shimmering reflection of Hogwarts Castle. Every day I wake up in that dormitory; every day I swing my legs over the side of the same damn bed and go to the same classes with the same people. Every day I listen to the same arguments--classes, NEWTS, bad marks and good marks; the actions of the Minister of Magic, stories about politics and treaties and the war, and every day I remember that I don't care.
Alastor took a deep drag on his cigarette, drawing the smoke down his throat. It hit the roof of his mouth with a distinctly sour flavor, but he swallowed it down anyway.
It doesn't matter. I've known that all along, but being here and living this only illustrates it more: it doesn't matter.
He threw the smouldering butt of his cigarette down on the sand, grinding it out with his heel. It smoked briefly, ash glowing a dim red in the darkness.
Alastor watched it until it was cold and dead. Then he turned around and slowly made his way back to the castle, fingers gone numb from cold.
It's going to snow soon, he thought to himself, as another breath of cold air blew down from the moutain. Do I want it to snow?
Ah, he reminded himself, with an ironic little grin, but that doesn't matter either.
The stairs were long and steep; Alastor made the climb alone in the dim half-light of the sleeping castle. The darkness was thick and opressive, but he liked it that way. It was easy to slide along the corridors, disguised in the shadows. The prefects had all long gone to sleep; the professors would not be out stalking the midnight hour. It's too late and too cold for anyone to be awake. Or at least, awake and about. Anyone but me.
Even the corridor to the portrait hole was dark and deserted. Alastor slunk along in the darkness, pausing only to mumble the password. "Caput Draconus."
The Fat Lady yawned, motioning him onward with her other hand. "Can't you get back at a decent hour of the night?" she demanded as he climbed inside.
"No," Alastor answered her sharply. "I can't," and he didn't hear if she answered, because the portrait swung shut behind him.
There were still coals glowing in the fireplace; he swung himself into the nearest armchair and lit another cigarette with a flick of his fingertips. If only the prefects hadn't confiscated his store of firewhiskey...he was old enough to have it, and he wasn't giving it to anyone else. I don't share, he thought with a smile. What made them think that I would give out firewhiskey?
Alastor took another long drag on his cigarette, the smoke leaking down his chin and spreading over the firegrate, mingling with the woodsmoke...